11 February 2020

The Feast of our lady of Lourdes: for Latinists

At an early stage in the reforms which led from the Breviarium Romanum to the Liturgia Horarum, the (very competent and distinguished) scholar presiding over Hymnology, Dom Anselmo Lentini, proposed to assign a Proper hymn, Omnis expertem, to this feast. Taken from the pre-Conciliar Propers, its ultimate origin was a local Office of our Lady of Lourdes granted to the Diocese of Tarbes (now 'Tarbes et Lourdes') in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII (extended to the Universal Roman Rite by Pope S Pius X in 1907). Its interest is increased by the fact that there are grounds for strongly suspecting that this hymn was composed by the Pontiff himself, Leo XIII, who was (like Pope S Leo the Great) a Latinist of considerable distinction, as well as being an enthusiastic promoter of the cultus of our Lady of Lourdes. Its text is at the bottom of this page.

Other hymns to our Lady which you might like to compare are these**; do you think a stylistic study supports, or otherwise, the attribution of Omnis expertem to Pope Leo?

*Te dicimus praeconio: Also perhaps by Leo XIII, and also composed for the Office of our Lady of Lourdes. Lentini transferred it in the Liturgia Horarum to the Immaculate Conception. Sadly, he changed the stately second line (Intacta Mater Numinis) to the somewhat prosaic Mater Dei purissima, on the grounds that Numinis "sapit mythologiam". (Vide Sacrosanctum Concilium 93; I can see this point when it applies to Olympus or Iuppiter tonans, but is there much wrong with numen?) 

*O lux beata and *Sacra iam splendent for the Feast of the Holy Family: certainly by Leo; Lentini knocked a couple of stanzas off the beginning of Sacra, thus turning it into Dulce fit. These two hymns survive from the Breviary into the Liturgia Horarum.

Here is the text of the hymn to our Lady of Lourdes, for those of you who lack a pre-Conciliar Breviary. It is, surely, particularly appropriate at this time this year, as Septuagesima bids us think about the Fall, the Felix Culpa.

Omnis expertem maculae Mariam
edocet summus fidei magister;
Virginis gaudens celebrat fidelis
     terra triumphum.

Ipsa se praebens humili puellae
Virgo spectandam, recreat paventem,
seque conceptam sine labe sancto
     praedicat ore.

O specus felix, decorata divae
matris aspectu! veneranda rupes,
unde vitales scatuere pleno
     gurgite lymphae!

*Huc catervatim pia turba nostris,
huc ab externis peregrina terris
affuit supplex et opem potentis
     Virginis orat.

*Excipit mater lacrimas precantum,
donat optatam miseris salutem;
compos hinc voti patrias ad oras
     turba revertit.

Supplicum, Virgo, miserata casus,
semper o nostros refove labores,
impetrans maestis bona sempiternae
     gaudia vitae.

Sit decus Patri, genitaeque Proli,
et tibi, compar utriusque virtus,
Spiritus semper, Deus unus, omni
     temporis aevo.

* Lentini proposed to omit these two stanzas. Huc, hinc seemed to him to imply a Gallocentric world view!

4 comments:

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. This is off topic but ABS thinks you might find this useful when responding to sedevacantsis and the Benedict Is Still Pope crowd.



“DOGMATIC FACTS. A dogmatic fact is one that has not been revealed, yet is so intimately connected with a doctrine of faith that without certain knowledge of the fact there can be no certain knowledge of the doctrine. For example, was the [First] Vatican Council truly ecumenical? Was Pius IX a legitimate pope? Was the election of Pius XI valid? Such questions must be decided with certainty before decrees issued by any council or pope can be accepted as infallibly true or binding on the Church. It is evident, then, that the Church must be infallible in judging of such facts, and since the Church is infallible in believing as well as in teaching, it follows that the practically unanimous consent of the bishops and faithful in accepting a council as ecumenical, or a Roman Pontiff as legitimately elected, gives absolute and infallible certainty of the fact.” (The Church of Christ, pp. 288, 289, 290)


It is evident, then, that the Church must be infallible in judging of such facts, and since the Church is infallible in believing as well as in teaching, it follows that the practically unanimous consent of the bishops and faithful in accepting … a Roman Pontiff as legitimately elected, gives absolute and infallible certainty of the fact.” (The Church of Christ, pp. 288, 289, 290)

The Church of Christ, An Apologetic And Dogmatic Treatise, E. Sylvester Berry, STD

Irenaeus said...

I rather enjoyed this. Thank you, Father.

PM said...

Given the fashion that has developed for canonising popes, I find it most perplexing that Leo XIII has not been. Not only was he a skilled Latinist, but he had very good theological judgement (his encyclicals are ageing very well, and witness his role in the Thomistic revival), and I know of no suggestion that he was anything other than a man of great personal holiness (there were none of Pius XI's fits of temper, for example). I simply cannot understand why he has been passed over.

Eamon Duffy, by the way, relates a splendid anecdote about Pius XI. Powerful forces in the curia were stalling his plans to condemn Charles Mauras and Action Francaise. When told that the file could not be found, Pius flew into a rage and had the entire staff of the curia called before him. 'Find the file within 48 hours', he told them, 'or I'll sack the lot of you and send you out to be curates in the slums.' The allegedly missing file was duly found. At least Francis hasn't gone that far yet.

Stephen v.B. said...

Although I do like the apparent suggestion (by PM) that being a 'skilled Latinist' could be (part of) a reason for someone's canonization - there may be some hope for us sinners yet! - I don't think the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has that particular quality high on its checklist.

On the other hand: it was John Henry Newman who wrote: "I have nothing of a Saint about me as every one knows … Saints are not literary men, they do not love the classics, they do not write Tales. I may be well enough in my way, but it is not the 'high line'". And look what happened to him!